Clashes erupted in Chile on Wednesday September 11, 2013 the 40th anniversary of the military coup that over threw Chile's progressive, democratic government and put in place a military dictatorship. Many around the world think of the phrase "September 11 Anniversary" as speaking only about the terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001. However, in the Latin American country of Chile the September 11 anniversary has held significant meaning for a much longer period of time. On September 11, 1973 General Augusto Pinochet overthrew the government and ousted the democratically elected Salvador Allende.
Wednesday was the first time since the Pinochet dictatorship came to an end in 1990 that the government of Chile recognized the anniversary of the 1973 coup. The Chilean people would often remember the day in their own private way but Wednesday was meant to be a national day of remembrance. Protesters and demonstrators took to the streets on Wednesday setting up barricades and getting into altercations with police. The Chilean Interior Minister, Andres Chadwick told the BBC that "up to this moment the reports have been very positive compared to what we were expecting".
Past non-government recognized anniversaries have often exploded with violence. During Wednesday's protests people threw rocks and gasoline bombs at police officers while setting up flaming barricades. Officers have arrested at least 13 people since the clashes began. One policeman was injured in an altercation with protestors. The barricades were erected in two neighborhoods in the city of Santiago. The current President of Chile, Sebastian Pinera approved the national day of remembrance. During a speech following a religious ceremony marking the anniversary Pinera said it was important not to pass hatreds of the past onto future generations.
"I'm certain that the great majority of Chileans feels that peace and reconciliation are necessary, and that after 40 years the time has come not to forget, but to overcome the traumas of the past," Pinera said. The president also condemned the "violent coup that started a 17-year period of military rule." On September 11, 1973 General Augusto Pinochet led a fierce aerial attack of the presidential palace. Rather than surrender it is believed that the former President, Salvador Allende committed suicide.
For the next 17-years Pinochet led a dictatorship killing as estimated 3,095 Chileans. During his time in power it is also believed the Pinochet government was responsible for the disappearance of 1,200 people. In 1990 Pinochet died while under house arrest. He was brought up on charges of illegal enrichment and human rights violations, he was never put on trial.
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